202

Westmoreland can scrap health care, contract to sell mine

FILE - This file photo taken May 25, 2013, shows an aerial view of Colstrip power plants 1,2,3 & 4 and the Westmoreland coal mines near Colstrip, Mont. Westmoreland Coal Co. of Englewood, Colo., filed for bankruptcy Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, to deal with steep debt and declining world demand. Company officials say the Chapter 11 filing is part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders. Company officials say operations won't be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions. Westmoreland has coal mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas and a coal-fired power plant in North Carolina. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge says Westmoreland Coal Co. can eliminate health care for retirees and its union contract to sell a southwestern Wyoming mine to a Virginia businessman.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Friday’s ruling will likely mean retired miners who worked at the Kemmerer mine will lose their company health benefits. However, the judge delayed entering a final order until Tuesday to give the United Mine Workers of America and the Colorado-based company time to negotiate a deal.

Westmoreland, one of the nation’s oldest coal operators, filed for bankruptcy in October.

The man trying to buy the mine, Tom Clarke, says the changes in employee benefits are “painful” but necessary.

The vice president of the union in Kemmerer, Mike Dalpiaz, (DELL’-pahz) says the contract must remain strong or miners will refuse to work.

___

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.